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John Weston says Canada heading for an election

Sea to Sky MP sees election as likely prospect after opposition rejects budget



Canada is headed for its third election in five years, Sea to Sky's MP said Tuesday.

John Weston, the Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, said it "looks like we're going to an election" after all three opposition leaders in the House of Commons said they would not support a budget presented by Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

"The disappointing thing is that, at least for the Liberals and the Bloc, it was a foregone conclusion before we'd even seen the content of the budget," Weston said.

"In the Liberals, you've got someone who prides himself as an intellectual panning the book before even reading the book."

Flaherty presented a budget on Tuesday that contained money for various initiatives that the government believes would help Canada meet a goal to get out of deficit by 2015-2016. The government is borrowing money from sources such as Canada Savings Bonds to finance an economic stimulus that has put the country's finances in the red.

Within the budget, Flaherty promised items such as a $2,000 family caregiver tax credit; a $500 tax credit for parents enrolling their children in the arts; a top-up benefit for the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors; and a $3,000 for volunteer firefighters who perform 200 hours of community service in a year - a benefit that Weston claims he helped push for.

"I specifically tried to get this in the budget and it's there," he said. "It's something the volunteer firefighters in our riding asked to have put in there."

Though the opposition leaders have indicated they won't support the budget, that doesn't mean the government will fall right away. A vote will come up in the House this Friday in which the parties will decide whether or not to support it. Budgets are commonly confidence motions - and if it is not supported, that will signal the House's lack of confidence in the government and force an election.

Daniel Veniez, the Liberal candidate in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, was vastly unimpressed with the budget. In an e-mail to Pique he said spending on "tax breaks for large corporations," an "untendered stealth fighter deal" and on "U.S.-style mega-prisons" is not acceptable for his party.

"From what I can see, the budget does almost nothing to strengthen public pensions, ignores child care and early learning and does little for family caregivers and post-secondary students," he said. "It also guts our capacity to secure the future of public health care."

Veniez also cited the fact that Prime Minister Stephen Harper faces a vote that could find him in contempt of Parliament for hiding spending plans from a committee. That vote could come either Wednesday or Thursday.

"We need to bring honesty and respect back to Ottawa," Veniez said. "This is an incompetent, divisive and disrespectful government the likes of which Canada has rarely seen."